By Peter Hodgson ( I Heart Guitar)

Haken aren’t like all the other prog bands out there. In a genre that has ironically come to take on certain stylistic hallmarks that it seems like every prog band needs to have, the British quintet manage to remain actually progressive. Where many prog bands aim for utter precision, Haken aren’t scared to get groovy in amongst the odd time signatures and noodly interludes. Their latest album, Vector, is a technicolour ride through their collective imaginations. Produced by the band and mixed by ex-Periphery bassist and producer Adam “Nolly” Getgood, it’s a complex and diverse yet cohesive experience – and one that fans will be able to experience live in June as the band brings their Vector Studies tour to Australia.

This is the band’s second tour of Australia (although several members did make a sneaky trip out here with Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress project), and the tour is also taking in Auckland and Adelaide. “That’s because of feedback we got from the last tour,” vocalist Ross Jennings says. “We didn’t want to miss the middle of Australia this time – but now we have to skip Perth!” Guitarist Richard Henshall is also a bit miffed that the tour will miss Perth: “We played Perth on the Mike Portnoy tour, but it’s so difficult logistically. But it’s a beautiful city and I’m sure one day we’ll return.”

The Vector Studies tour is, obviously, a vehicle to promote the Vector record. “We’ve been travelling with this Vector Studies concept for the last couple of tours and now it’s Australia’s turn,” Jennings says. “Last time we toured Australia we’d only just released Affinity, so there’s a whole bunch of new material for people to hear now, and we have a programmed light show now so everything is going to be a step up from last time. You can expect a really intense Haken show as usual.” Henshall adds, “When we were writing Vector, we had a larger-than-life sort of feeling, and when we toured the US on the first leg of shows for the album, we wanted to really take the production up a notch to reflect the music. That was the first time we’d done it, which was November and December last year and it really took our whole stage show to another level and really lifted the music.”

It’s a big leap from the band’s early days. “I remember turning up at shows and there would be one purple light on us for the whole show,” Jennings says. “Yeah!,” Henshall adds, “It would really affect the way we performed as well because when there’s nothing happening onstage it really puts a damper on the whole show, for us and the fans.”

“We take a lot of inspiration from cinema,” Jennings says. “Sometimes when we’re writing we try to visualise images in our heads. TV is the new cinema now and Netflix has taken over the business in a way: people aren’t going to the cinema any more, they’re binging on epic productions like Game of Thrones. Affinity, for example, that album was heavily influenced by a lot of 80s sci-fi, and that’s a great passion across all of us in the band. That stuff has always seeped into our concept albums as well.”

“I love Asian cinema,” Henshall says. “I love kung fu films. One of the best recent kung fu films was The Raid. I like a lot of sci fi stuff, independent films… Bladerunner 2049, Arrival…

It would be unfair to talk to Australian Musician without throwing in a whole bunch of musician talk, especially for such a musicianly band. So guys, what gear are you bringing with you? “On the last album, Diego started a new deal with Arturia and they’re an amazing company that do a lot of retro softsynth stuff,” Henshall says, “but they also do a hardware synth called the Matrix Brute, and that was really instrumental in creating the sound that Diego came up with on the album. It’s quite an amazing piece of gear, actually. It looks like something out of 2001: A Space Oddyssey.” Henshall’s guitar of choice is a Strandberg headless custom 8-string, while co-guitarist Charlie Griffiths will be bringing his Kiesel 8-string. “We travel with a Fractal Audio AX-8 pedal,” Henshall says. “They’re tiny! They fit into a laptop case so you can just throw it in the overhead on the plane, and we get the same tones every show. There are no micing issues at all, no bleeding issues onstage. It’s probably a dream for whoever is mixing our shows! We can just take the sounds from the album and bring them right to the stage. Flying between each show can really kill us when it comes to baggage fees, but theoretically we could just show up for a tour with a gig-bag and a laptop case. I wear the same clothes every day, so…”

Bassist Conner Green used to use an AX-8 but at the moment he’s running a pedalboard of doom, featuring a bunch of Darkglass pedals running direct into the mixing desk. “The Darkglass pedals are especially nice,” Henshall says. Drummer Raymond Hearne uses Natal drums. “On the last tour he had a see-through acrylic red Natal kit and he’s never sounded that good before!”

HAKEN June 2019 Australian and NZ Tour Dates:
Wednesday 5th June – AUCKLAND Galatos
Thursday 6th June – BRISBANE The Brightside
Friday 7th June – SYDNEY Factory Theatre
Saturday 8th June – MELBOURNE Max Watts
Sunday 9th June – ADELAIDE The Gov

From: http://davidroywilliams.com/tours/hakentour/

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